Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.
Issue link: http://loumag.epubxp.com/i/743286
16 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 11.16 TOOL OF THE TRADE Photo by Mickie Winters Prepping 67,000 lunches and 44,000 breakfasts for the mouths of Jefferson County Public Schools students every day is jaw-dropping business. Silver kettles as large as hot tubs cook meat, chili and salad dressing up to 200 gallons at a time. On the day I visit the JCPS Nutrition Service Center off Crittenden Drive, 144 turkeys lounge together in a "cook tank," a near mini-van of a contraption filled with hot water that slowly transforms raw birds to forthcoming holiday lunches. And yet, in the midst of this massive operation, arguably the most impressive tool measures about one foot long. A stainless-steel device called a viscometer ensures that each batch of whatever's cooking (gravy in the photo) is the right consistency. Let's take ranch dressing. Workers will drop one ounce of goop into a little holding cup and turn some knobs to center a leveling bubble (much like how a camera tripod works) to make sure the viscometer is set at just the right angle. A gate flips open. Pop! A stopwatch starts. Beep! Eyes watch to make sure the ranch drips down to the nine-centimeter line in the allotted 30 seconds. If it does, the ranch is ready to be chilled, bagged and shipped to schools. Taco meat should have a viscosity of zero — in other words, it shouldn't be runny in the least. If food doesn't hit its mark, supervisors will step in and try to troubleshoot. Other large-scale commercial operations probably use the viscometer too, says Dan Ellnor, manager of the Nutrition Service Center. It's a kitchen must when that kitchen is churning out thousands of servings in a matter of hours. "It makes sure everything is consistent, batch to batch, year to year," says Ellnor. — AM